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Wisconsin governor asks Trump to rethink his visit to Kenosha on Tuesday

Posted at 6:52 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 14:46:01-04

KENOSHA, Wis. — In an open letter, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers asked President Donald Trump to reconsider his planned visit to Kenosha on Tuesday.

"I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing," Evers wrote in the letter on Sunday. "...an in-person visit from you will require a massive re-direction of these resources to support your visit at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community's response."

In response, the White House said that Trump's visit would continue as scheduled.

"The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the President's visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalized," White House spokesperson Judd Deere wrote in a statement. "President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild."

During a press conference on Monday, City of Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian was also against Trump visiting.

“We want everything to calm down. We want to give people an opportunity to talk before the president comes into town.”

It's been one week since Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey. Days of protests, looting, and fires followed. During unrest last Tuesday night, investigators believe 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse traveled more than a dozen miles to the city and later shot and killed two people and injured a third.

"People are scared, people are tense," said Kenosha resident Austin Kitchens.

Later on Sunday, several Kenosha County supervisors also wrote a letter to Trump, countering the governor and asking the President not to cancel his plans to visit.

"Kenoshans are hurting and looking for leadership, and your leadership in this time of crisis is greatly appreciated by those devastated by the violence in Kenosha," the letter reads. Seven supervisors, including Zach Rodriguez, Gabe Nudo, Amy Maurer, Jeff Wamboldt, Mark Nordigian, Erin Decker, and Lon Wienke, signed it.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, also tweeted that the President should rethink his visit. Kaul is leading the investigation into the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Other Democrats agree with the governor.

"There are a number of ways the President can help if wants to be helpful, but ultimately divisive rhetoric at this time will not help our community heal and grieve," State Rep. Tip McGuire, D-Kenosha, said.

Some people in Kenosha said they do not want the President to visit. Others, like Ruth Simon, say that while they are worried that tensions will flare again, she's excited for the President to be in Kenosha.

"Because he's done a lot, I feel he's done a lot for us," Simon said.

Republicans in Wisconsin believe the President is visiting at the right time and that his presence will show leadership.

"I reached out to the President on Tuesday, and he said he would provide additional resources to the city of Kenosha, those were essential to get in," Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisconsin, said. "Many men and women stood up to help provide that public safety in Kenosha, and the President is coming to say thank you."

Steil said he would be in Kenosha with the President on Tuesday, and it will give him a chance to talk about how the city can move forward.

"We've now established public safety in the city of Kenosha, we now begin the healing process, and the rebuilding process, and I think it's a great opportunity to have that conversation with the President," Steil said.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Haines on WTMJ in Milwaukee.